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Public Art

Habit Habit

About the Artist

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Kalanjay Dhir is visual artist, musician and passionate local. His work often draws on sci-fi, popular culture and video games to tell stories and imagine alternative worlds. His artworks regularly refer to his experience of growing up in the rapidly changing City of Parramatta.

About the Artwork

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Habit Habit

Kalanjay Dhir
Habit Habit, 2022
Simulation recordings, single channel video, 30 minutes (full simulation duration infinite) 3200x1000px

Habit Habit is a simulation screen work created by artist and Parramatta local Kalanjay Dhir. It reflects on Parramatta as a historical and future meeting place. 

The video is stylised as a video game inspired by avatar-based online chatrooms of the mid-2000s. It draws on the game genres of city-builders and chat rooms as a space to document human stories and personalities. 

Each character is based on a local person inspired by their favourite flower species. 21 people were interviewed in the process of making the work. These interviews were transcribed to text, then processed to create scripts for each of their avatars. The world of Habit Habit is a place where each character reflects on personal and external changes in their lives and the world around them.
Habit Habit was made in collaboration with Alexandra Chalmers-Braithwaite, Emma Uyen-Le Pham, Amy Toma, Kashif Sheikh and Chi Tran.


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Habit Habit


Who Are the Avatars?

There are 27 avatars within Habit Habit. 21 of them are portraits made in collaboration with 21 members of the Parramatta community. These include artists, students, town planners, accountants, cultural workers, teachers and more.

The last six avatars are based on the team behind Habit Habit who exist within the world as mostly silent residents. The exception is the character Wattli, who is an avatar for the artist.

Simulations and games as a form of documentary or social record…

What is a simulation? A simulation is essentially a copy of an existing system. Making a simulation is the process of creating a model or copy of an existing thing to study and understand it over a period of time. 

For example, a physicist might make a simulation of the planets using marbles and tensioned fabric to study gravity, or an ornithologist might make a simulation of a bird’s natural habitat to study a bird’s nesting habits over time.

There are several other artists, social scientists and researchers who do this, Habit Habit references the artworks of Ian Cheng and Lawrence Lek, who use simulations and the game engines such as Unity and Unreal Engine as a method for exploring models of the human mind. 

In the case of Habit Habit, what is displayed is a simulation of 21 local peoples reflecting on changes in their personal and environmental life. This artwork uses simulation as a documentary method. Documenting a slice of Parramatta’s diverse residents in 2022 through a fantastical lens.

Where or when is Habit Habit based?

Habit Habit is set in an imaginary future of Parramatta, in the Year 2922, 900 years from the present day. As the artist's avatar, Wattli, explains at the start of the work, the ‘Habit’ is made up of anthropomorphic flowers that used to “sit in the sun and watch the days go by” until the discovery of a memory card from the year 2022.

While the ‘Habit’ may have some memories and reconstructions of Parramatta, such as post-war ‘fibro’ houses, sandstone, and the incoming light-rail tram, the audience may notice some newer technologies, such as strange energy lamps and a fountain that causes the inhabitants to give a speech. 

Habit Habit was inspired by the idea of a ‘renaissance’ and thinking about the way future societies may re-discover the present moment.

Habit Habit


Habit Habit


The Artists behind Habit Habit 

Kalanjay Dhir

Kalanjay Dhir is an artist based in Sydney on unceded Dharug land. His work draws on popular culture, sci-fi and myth. Working through video and sculpture, Kalanjay enjoys thinking about the limits of human consciousness and how this could change in the near future. 

In the past three years, Kalanjay has used the language and techniques behind computer games to develop speculative storytelling methods. During this time, he has been interested in the power of fictions, and the parallels between the history of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and human evolution. 

Alexandra Chalmers-Braithwaite

Alexandra is the lead technical producer and Unity developer behind Habit Habit. Alexandra is currently a PHD candidate and research assistant at UTS. Their research focuses on developing Queer strategies for designing VR experiences, with a focus on embodiment and the interface between bodies and virtual worlds.

Amy Toma

Amy Toma is a graphic designer living and working on unceded Dharug land. She is also a co-director of Pari, an artist-run space in Parramatta. Her 
ever-evolving practice is focused on building community and finding ways to inspire and delight.

Chi Tran

Chi Tran is a writer and filmmaker. Her work is heavily influenced by physics, slow cinema, genetic memory, and faith. She has exhibited and published widely, including with ACCA, MAMA, Liquid Architecture, un. magazine, Runway Journal, and LIMINAL.

Emma Uyen Le Pham

Emma Pham is a practicing artist, living on Dharug & Dharawal lands in south-west Sydney. Working primarily with pixel art and digital art, my work seeks to spark video game nostalgia, ethereal playfulness and radical joy. 

Kashif Sheikh

Kashif is a researcher and musician based in south-west Sydney. His research interests include applications of AI in texts and language.

Artist Biography

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In 2021, Kalanjay was commissioned to produce original video works by ACMI, Sydney Opera House and Fairfield City Museum and Gallery. In 2020, he presented at Next Wave Festival and was the recipient of the Fauvette Loureiro Emerging Scholarship. From 2017-2020, he worked from Parramatta Artists’ Studios and in 2019 this led to co-founding Pari, an independent artist-run space, co-directed with local peers. Alongside Kilimi and DJ Atro, he hosted Wednesday Sunset on FBi Radio for 3 years, spotlighting emerging musical acts from West and Southwest Sydney.

List of acknowledgments
Artist and Designer: 
Kalanjay Dhir 

City of Parramatta

Parramatta City and PHIVE Research: 
Kalanjay Dhir 

Research and Western Sydney Community: 
Kalanjay Dhir and Kashif Sheikh

Lead Technical Producer: 
Alexandra Chalmers-Braithwaite

Graphic Designer:
Amy Toma

Emma Uyen Le Pham

Public Art Project Manager City of Parramatta: 
Suzanne Buljan, Senior Officer, Cultural Projects and Public Art, PHIVE Project

Video Stills: 
Kalanjay Dhir

Video Editing: 
Kalanjay Dhir and Chi Tran

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